"Remember that every ounce,
every particle of food contributes to the strength of puppy limbs,
therefore let every meal given be of maximum health in natural
A properly weaned puppy is a joy to see and possess. It has come into
the world with a set of brand-new organs: heart, brain, liver, kidneys,
etc. All are new, clean and unspoiled. It is each puppy's right that it
fed foods which will not damage or degenerate its new body, but improve
safeguard its health, so that it will never know the pain and distress
worm infestation, rickets, scouring, skin eruptions."
---Source: Juliette de Bairacli Levy
With this as an early inspiration, the fundamental procedure I use for
weaning puppies was based directly on the details outlined in
Juliette's book "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat".
I start the weaning in the fourth week (Juliette is very firm on not
starting earlier). This begins with using goat's milk (raw,
unpasturized, if you can find it) as a base. Thicken this by adding
about 1 tablespoon of raw honey per quart of goat's milk. Then for
extra nutrition, strengthen the milk by adding approximately 1 teaspoon
of NR Tree Bark Gruel per puppy to be fed. This mixture is warmed to a
tepid degree (lukewarm not hot) and introduced to the litter.
Several days later, when they are eating this mix well, begin
thickening it with fine ground barley (or oat) flakes--HUMAN GRADE. (At
this point the puppy's digestive system simply cannot digest animal
feed grade grains. You might as well feed sawdust.) The barley flakes
should be ground to a fine powder for best digestion. I use a food
processor for this but a small hand grinder also works just as well. If
you are unable to find barley flakes, then substitute barley baby
cereal. Add a small amount of Flax Oil (cold pressed) and a little NR
Special Blend to the meal.
When using this gruel, I give about a 1/2 cup per puppy (amount will of
course vary with the breed of dog) and I increase this amount over time
with the amount of interest the pups show in the gruel.
Towards the end of the fifth week, I start to introduce raw meat (I
use very fine lean ground turkey) as a separate meal. A little bran
or wheat) should be added to the meat for roughage. What we are trying
accomplish here is to imitate nature as closely as possible.
The natural instinct of the bitch when in the wild state (and common to
all carnivores) is to semi-digest flesh food in her own stomach and
then to vomit up the food for the use of her whelps. If you are unable
to find fine ground turkey, obtain some lean whole turkey thighs
put them through a food processor until they are like mush. Within the
day or two I increase this to two meat meals per day.
With the meat meal, each individual puppy should be fed in separate
dishes. Competitive feeding causes overeating and thus digestive
It is natural in the wild for each fox or wolf cub to run off with its
portion of torn flesh and devour this at a safe distance from the other
At this point I am feeding an early A. M. milk/gruel meal, followed
by a noon milk/gruel meal. Then around 4 PM a meat meal, followed
8 PM with their last meat meal.
During this introductory time frame I start to introduce grated
vegetables to the evening meat meal. (Ex. grated carrots). Other
veggies can be introduced (one at a time) with each passing day.
Supplements are added the same way. A couple of days after introducing
the meat meals (i.e. when you are sure that they are handling this
O.K.), add a pinch of NR Seaweed Mineral Food to the evening meal. The
following day, crush a NR Herbal Compound tablet and give one per pup
(or less depending on breed).
Next, add a little Vitamin C to the milk/gruel meals and the meat
meals. (If loose stools are seen simply cut back on the dosage).
Greens are very important and should be added to the evening meat meal.
I usually use about 1 teaspoon of 1/2 parsley and 1/2 dandelion leaves,
chopped fine (again through the food processor). Other greens can be
such as watercress, cress, cilantro, mint leaves, clover, etc.
I also ensure that with each meat meal, a "Cyrofood" tablet is given to
balance the calcium/phosphorus levels.
The remaining supplements I use, such as Vitamin E and NR Daily Health
tablets, and NR Herbal Compound, are introduced as soon as I am sure
that everything else is being handled nicely.
As the pups get a little older they are fundamentally receiving the
same components as are fed to my adults. The milk/gruel meals become
basis for the grain meal (i.e. gradually reduce milk content and
grain components) and the meat meal is gradually changed from a "mushy"
meat to small chunks, to normal size chunks as they can handle it.
To complete the weaning process I like to introduce raw bones (for
balanced calcium). I find that chicken wings or necks work well for
this purpose. Please remember these are soft when they are raw. It's
only when they are cooked that they become brittle and can splinter.
By the time the puppies are 8 weeks old they will be on a complete raw
food diet, just like the adults, except that the portions are
appropriate for their age, weight and breed size.
© 2003 Ambrican Enterprises Ltd. Last modified: June 07, 2006
reprinted with kind permission from Marina mailto:Marina@naturalrearing.com
How To Wean Puppies
Jane R. Bicks, D.V.M.
Early weaning is selfish and
unnatural, unless the health of the mother is at stake. Puppies require
the easy-to-digest, nutrient packed milk from their mother or puppy
until 6 weeks of age.
Early weaning can create all types of health problems, including food
allergies, during their adult life. If you keep mom's puppy food in a
shallow dish, the inquisitive puppies are sure to walk into the food,
smell it, and eventually try to eat it!
They will also start to lap water as they fall in it and play around
it. To prevent drowning, it's essential to put water in a shallow spill
proof dish, then clean and refill it as often as needed.
Weaning Puppy If Feeding Mom Dry Puppy Food
Fill another shallow dish with puppy food and add enough water to
soften it (making it the consistency of oatmeal) Just as with mom's
the puppies will eventually end up in the dish, lapping the "mush" that
tastes just like mom's milk. Timing is everything.
At this stage, mom is tired, sore, and in need of escape. Once the
puppies start to eat on their own, they will demand less milk from mom
her the chance to leave the den for longer intervals. Day by day you
decrease the additional water until the puppies are eating solid puppy
free-feed. That's when mom and the puppies can celebrate their
Weaning Puppy If Feeding Mom Canned Food
Simply add water until the food becomes a mush. Day by day you will
decrease additional water until you are serving direct from the can
(heated to room temperature). Since canned food can spoil, you will
need to refill the
Weaning Puppy With No Mom
Once the puppies reach 4-6 weeks or have become brave enough to
investigate beyond their den, it's time to add a puppy food to their
with 1/4 food and 3/4 formula. Don't add too much additional water
you will dilute the puppy's meal.
Day by day you add more puppy food and less formula until you are
feeding only food. Congratulations, job well done, Mom!
Weaning puppies is a
perfectly natural process. Mamma dogs have been doing it successfully
for ages, so how hard can it be, right?
Puppies Is Only Natural
But humans, not being dogs, can sometimes forget the natural part, and
get confused about it.
Fact is, weaning puppies is an easy, logical process.
When you're ready to begin weaning your new puppies, keep in mind that
this should be done gradually, in small steps. You can’t rush it, and
you definitely don't want to begin when the puppies are too young.
Sometimes people get impatient and try to begin weaning puppies before
they're three weeks old. That's too early. Their bodies need to develop
the ability to handle solid food, and that takes time. Wait the three
-- it's not really so long.
The first step in the weaning process is to take the mother away from
the puppies at least an hour before it’s time for them to eat. This
gives the puppies a chance to get good and hungry. They'll be more
inclined to try the new, alternative food you offer them.
Remember, when it’s time for the puppies to eat, the mother should be
The alternative food you offer them should be liquid or semi-liquid so
it's easy for them to swallow and digest. Solid food won't work for
You can make a gruel of commercial dog food mixed with water or baby
cereal thinned with water. Another option when weaning puppies is to
diluted strained baby food.
Put any of these mixtures in a small, shallow dish. Some of the puppies
will have no problem eating. They'll catch on immediately. But there
may be a few that just don't get it. So they'll need some
encouragement. The easiest
way is to put a little of the mixture on the tip of their nose or on
When weaning puppies you'll also need to decrease the amount of food
you're giving the mother. This causes her to produce less milk. At the
same time, you can gradually begin increasing the amount of food you
the puppies, and over the next several days make it less soupy. As they
grow and their digestion matures, their food should slowly become more
solid, day by day.
Weaning puppies at this point becomes easier because, as the solid food
grows more familiar to them, they learn to enjoy it more. Let them eat
as much as they want as long as they don't become bloated.
If you approach weaning puppies like this, the process should be
simple, painless and easy. Expect to see them completely weaned by the
time they're six to eight weeks old.
Learn great ways to use puppy toys for training and socializing your
new pup. Make sure you're on the right track when training your dog.
be sure to get the free eBook of puppy coloring pages for your kids.
reprinted with kind permission from Dave
Race Foster, DVM, Marty Smith, DVM
Many people with a new litter
of puppies are unsure of how to start the weaning process. In fact,
not even really understand what weaning means or implies. Weaning
refers to the process of the puppies beginning to eat food other than
milk or milk formula. There is no magic trick in weaning puppies; most
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
A female dog is capable of supplying milk to her offspring for several
months. In the wild, pups will be born in the spring and may (in some
situations) still be nursing from their mother as the fall season
arrives. They will
definitely be taking food from other sources, but the mother will still
producing milk. The signal for the mammary glands to continue to
milk is nursing or manipulation of the glands. Following whelping, if
massages the mammary glands, they will continue to produce milk, even
the pups are taken away.
In today’s world, weaning is not done to aid the mother. Rather, it is
done because puppies generally make their way to their new home at
seven weeks of age, and since their mother is not going with them, the
need to have their gastrointestinal tracts accustomed to eating
prepared foods. In most kennels, puppies get the first taste of food
than Mom’s milk at about 3½ weeks of age. This may seem early to
you, but after working with numerous breeders and seeing many litters
in our own homes, we can guarantee that the puppies of any breed can
food on their own at this age. To make a puppy mush, we stay with the
brand of food the mother is fed, selecting the company’s dry puppy
It might be Iams, Purina, Science Diet, Nature’s Recipe, etc.
Prepare the puppy mush by placing 2 cups of high quality dry puppy food
in a blender with 12.5 oz liquid puppy milk
replacer and fill the rest of the blender with hot water. This should
be blenderized until the consistency of human infant cereal. (This
6-8 puppies of a medium-sized breed.) The puppies should receive 3-4
a day of this to start. Once the puppies have checked it out, walked in
it, and have eaten some, the dam can be allowed to finish it and clean
the puppies off. Each week, increase the amount of food, decrease the
amount of the
milk replacer and water that is added, and the time of blenderizing, so
by 7 weeks, the puppies are eating dry food.
Once they are on dry food, it may be left in
with the puppies (when the dam is out of the box) or the meal times can
continue. As the puppies eat more solid food, the bitch may be let away
from the puppies for an even longer period of time. By the time they
are 6½-7 weeks, they should be fully weaned from the dam's milk,
eating dry food, and drinking water.
If the weaning is not rushed, the bitch will naturally start decreasing
milk production as the puppies increase their intake of solid food. As
the puppies begin eating the puppy mush at 4 weeks of age, start
changing the bitch's diet back to adult food to also help her decrease
milk production. Start by replacing 1/4 of her puppy food with adult
food. Keep increasing the adult food and decreasing the puppy food
until by the 8th week postpartum, she is eating only adult food. During
the last week of weaning, the dam's food consumption should be less
than 50% above the maintenance levels and declining toward maintenance
References and Further Reading
Holst, P. Canine Reproduction: A Breeder's Guide. Alpine Publications.
Loveland, CO; 1985.
Evans, J.M; White, K. Book of the Bitch. Howell Book House. New York;
Lee, M. Whelping and Rearing of Puppies. T.F.H. Publications, Inc.
Neptune City, NJ.
Fogle, B. The Dog's Mind-Understanding Your Dog's Behavior. Howell Book
House. New York; 1990.
Wilson, S; Kilcommons, B. P.A.W.S. to Consider. 1999.
Rutherford, C; Neil, D. How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With, 3rd ed.
Alpine Publications. 1999.
The Monks of New Skete. The Art of Raising a Puppy. Little, Brown, and
Company. Boston; 1991.
Feldman, E; Nelson, R. Canine and Feline Endocrinology and
Reproduction. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 1987.
Cain, J; Lawler, D. Small Animal Reproduction and Pediatrics.
Pro-Visions Pet Specialty Enterprises. St. Louis, MO; 1991.
Finder Harris, B. Breeding a Litter: The Complete Book of Prenatal and
Postnatal Care. Howell Book House. New York; 1993.
Fleig, D. The Technique of Breeding Better Dogs. Howell Book House. New
Padgett, G.A. Control of Canine Genetic Diseases. Howell Book House.
New York; 1998.
Copyright © 1997-2009, Foster & Smith,
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from Josie Pitterle Article
Reprint Coordinator Drs. Foster and Smith
On-line store at http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com
Free pet supply catalog: 1-800-323-4208